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tv   Experts Testify on Response to Colorado River Drought Conditions  CSPAN  October 18, 2021 7:59pm-10:31pm EDT

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will we hear your voices every day. c-span now has you covered download the app for free today. >> c-span is your unfiltered view of government. brought to you by these television companies including charter communications. >> broadbent is a force for empowerment. that is why charter has invested billions, billions in infrastructure upgrading technology, empowering opportunity in communities big and small. charter is connecting us. >> charter communication support c-span as a public service. along with these other television providers giving you a front row seat to democracy. >> next, state and local officials testify at a house natural resources water subcommittee on colorado river drought conditions. it is two and half hours.
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>> we are meeting today to examine colorado river drought conditions. >> this meeting is being recorded. >> response measures for the first of two meetings on this important subject. under committee rule forever hundred oral will be limited to the chairman and ranking minority member this will allow state of more witnesses sooner. and help keep members on their schedule for therefore ask unanimous consent that all other members opening statements being made part of the hearing record and are submitted to the clerk by 5:00 p.m. today or the close of the hearing whichever comes first. and hearing no objection that is so ordered pretty also ask unanimous consent representative teresa fernandes representative lee and representative titus during the hearing to ask question of the witnesses. again hearing no objection that is so ordered without objection the chair may also declare a racist subject to the call of the chair as described in the noticed statements of documents or
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motions must be submitted for the electronic repository of the following e-mail address h and rc additionally please note her in person meetings members are responsible for their own microphones. so please do mute if you when you are not speaking of members will be muted by staff only to avoid inadvertent background noise. finally members or witnesses who are experiencing any technical problems should inform committee staff immediately. i will not recognize myself for a brief opening statement. so thanks again for joining us for the first of two meetings we are having on colorado river drought conditions in response measures by the colorado river is often called the hardest working river in the west. that is because it does so much for so many. the fact we are meeting to hear testimony from more than 15 witnesses covering two
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separate days really speaks to this very fact for this colorado river supplies to communities across seven western states serves morning 40 million people from colorado to california. and along the way this river and its tributaries flow through six national parks and monuments. also supports a multitude of fish and wildlife nearly 6 million acres of irrigated agriculture. $1.4trillion in economic activity every single gear. unfortunately, unprecedented drought conditions are creating enormous challenges for this important river and those who depend on it. in august made the first ever shortage declaration and the lower colorado river basin. then of course due to severe drought and low reservoir conditions, which had triggered reduced water releases from lake mead. these are actions that were recently taken in the upper
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basin as well to slow declining water levels at lake powell. water level lake mead and lake powell are the two largest reservoirs have declined to lows that have not been seen since those reservoirs are first filled. after drought with no end in sight it clear to most of this at least the climate change is fundamentally altering the colorado river its decrease the amount available to the ski river which was already over allocated. climate scientists are telling us to expect hotter, drier conditions even less water being available in the upcoming years. in fact some scientists describe what we are now seeing in the southwest as a long-term shift in climate called a ratification that is a multi- decade mega drought. this is deeply concerning for tens of millions of people who
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depend on the colorado river and vertically concerning for communities that already face water insecurity challenges which have long affected tribal communities more than any other across the colorado river basin. i should note there are 38 tribal nations across the colorado river basin under the winters doctrine which was first recognized by the supreme court in 1908 these tribes have significant legal rights to enough water from the colorado river to secure and maintain viable homeland. and yet tribes have been historically excluded from colorado river management and decision making. it is essential from both the practical and moral perspective that moving forward tribes play a significant role in the management and decision-making process on the colorado river but i look forward to more discussion on that need today. i want to also note that while we face significant challenges we have some effective tools in place to help build the
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worst effects of this drought. this includes the measures included in the colorado river drought contingency plan which was authorized through legislation led by our chairman in the last congress. but still more action is needed. we look forward to hearing from federal, state, tribal government witnesses today i want more can be done to respond to these unprecedented climate challenges we are seeing across the colorado river basin. were also discussed some of the initiatives being led by members of this committee which include investment in near term drought response, investment or water rights settlement, solvency improvement projects and investment and drought proof water recycling projects that are being led by water managers across the colorado river basin. i look forward to hearing more today and next week about the need for future colorado river management plans to effectively incorporate climate science. we get a lot of ground to cover. so with that i would like to
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now yield and recognized ranking member for his opening remarks. >> thank you mr. chair. this is a welcome committee hearing on an issue that is of incredible importance not only to the seven states involved with colorado but all of the western united states. and of course as you mention this is the first of a two-part hearing on the consequences of this two decade long drought. i'm very happy we are spending that kind of time on this issue. it is certainly that important. of course as we know and as i mentioned this drought is not affecting just colorado. it's affecting all of oregon, california, washington and western united states. and since our last meeting on drought which was about five months ago, about 5.8 million acres have burned up here in oregon and
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california. project water users in oregon climate regions in large portions of california project have been given zero allocations of water. of course they are not the only ones. this absence of water of devastated communities throughout the western united states. thousands of people are desperately worried right now that yet another year of drought will be the nail in the coffin for many, many farming, ranching and actually committees across the west. meanwhile the time of massive supply chain problems that our entire economy the last thing we need to rely on foreign countries for food because of poor water shortages. i think mr. chair our discussion is really about choices between a lot of different uses of water. i'm going to be very interested and listening to folks talk about how the world we are going to make those choices. so a little bit about the history of colorado i know folks here today to know far more about it than i.
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but if there is ever an illustration i would like to stand up microcosm bases its not really true because colorado so big. the situation colorado is facing is so reflective of what we are going to be seeing all over the west. whatever we come up with today is going to be a template of some sort for the type of issues we are facing here in oregon, california, washington, nevada and so forth. the incredible value of the colorado system and the folks that put it together all those years ago are to be commended. there are many who find fault with how colorado was developed. a reference of course the book science be damned and interesting book. one i think quarterbacks a lot of things but on the other hand make some good points about optimism when it comes to building storage.
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on the other hand without storage can we imagine what would be happening now in california, phoenix and other places and benefited by these systems? one of the things of course i am a water warrior i've spent literally hundreds of thousands of hours in all types of water negotiation. water negotiations, never ending negotiations over impossible circumstances of allocating water and being involved in the treaty agreement and on, and on, and on. today's hearing is so important and so welcome in many ways. such a period of fear we may not have more water to deal with will probably have less. i don't expect breakthroughs today expect a continuation to
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address the allocation of water between everyone who needs it. but that i want to thank all the folks that are going to testify today in advance of their testimony. i look forward to a productive conversation, thank you mr. chair i yield back too. >> thank you ranking member for they understand the chair of the full national resources committee has been a great leader on these issues is with us to provide an opening statement. chairman to please you are recognized for five minutes per. >> just quick comment to thank you for the hearing. vital discussion newark committee is not overlooking and we all appreciate that. we appreciate that very much. i want to disassociate myself
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with her opening comments mr. chairman. i think we need a comprehensive initiative that's were going to deal with the colorado river until the maker drought. your point is very important. i mentioned the water shed the colorado river so vital particularly around the grand canyon. i appreciate this we passed reconciliation mr. chairman, dealt with additional significant resources dealt with significant resources to have settlements with indian nations regarding water and to be able to have tribal nations
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and be able to create viable communities as well. so that is where we are at and i appreciate it and i yield back. >> thank you chair. we will now hear testimony starting with today's first panel featuring federal and tribal government witnesses. before introducing our witnesses today i will remind non- administration witnesses they are encouraged to participate in the witness diversity survey created by a congressional office of diversity and inclusion. witnesses may refer to their hearing invitation materials for further information on that. under committee rules please limit your statements to five minutes or entire statement will appear in the hearing record however and when you begin speaking the timer will start counting down. it will turn orange when you have one minute left. i do recommend members and witnesses who are joining
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remotely use the grid view in web ex here so you can lock the timer on your screen. after your testimony is complete please do remember to meet yourself to avoid inadvertent background noise. i will allow all of our witnesses to testify before we begin questioning. so first we will hear testimony assistant secretary for water and science department of interior. the chair now recognizes to testify for five minutes. >> do we have assistant secretary? let me just ask our staff if
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we were having some kind of technical difficulty. a second assistant secretary believe you are a muted you will not be the first offender in that regard we have all done it but if you could unmute yourself we'd love to hear from you. thanks for your patience folks but we don't have audio for the assistant secretary do we have her now? [inaudible] mr. chairman, can you hear me? >> hi thank you.
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>> or rate you are recognized for five minutes take it away. >> thank you for your patience. good afternoon assistant secretary for water and science in the department of interior. i'm honored to be part of the panel said of some of our tribal partners the ongoing drought conditions in the colorado river. as you noticed the governor's representative from all seven nationstates will be here today as well. the colorado river binds us together. we have a proven track record of being able to find ways towards the conditions we are facing will be essential for us to continue to work together for to address the ongoing challenges. climate change is real. we are seeing the effects of climate change in the colorado river basin every day. includes the extended drought,
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the extreme temperature and in some places flooding and landslides that are affecting our communities and environment. the department of the interior is committed to addressing the challenges of climate change in the colorado river basin by utilizing innovative strategies in working cooperatively with diverse communities that rely on the river. we are working in this area with her sister agencies with tribes and local entities to to respond to the drought throughout the west and in the basin. in january or since january we have been providing funding to over 220 different projects around the west. we were able $100 million to be able to have responses to improve area programs.
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they include infrastructure and continued drought contingency planning efforts. we also received additional funding through the relief bill. they are working to be able to get that funding out to the local and tribal communities as soon as possible. we appreciate congresses continued support for this important issue. october 1 marked the first year the beginning of the new water year across the west we are grateful for reports of initial snow and some of the states and some of the areas. but we know are going to be starting out with a deficit. we are starting out with the water issues in many of the basins and situations that are significantly below-average. in the colorado river basin lake powell and lake mead are currently at historically low levels. as noted on august 16 we
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announce the operating conditions for next year end we announced the first tier shortage in the lower basin brew work collaboratively to plan ahead for these conditions. but we know we need to do more. we'll work to use the best science and technical expertise and work collaboratively to help inform our decisions and work with our partners on our collective decision-making in the basin. made support, additional investments and include meant to water infrastructure that include investments in new technology and always emphasizing the need for continued collaboration on how we can best the needs of the community and allow them to utilize the federal resources that we have available.
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the testimony will here today will highlight the challenges that we face in many of our areas around the colorado river basin. we know to address the challenges will urgently need to fill the tools and to expand upon the work we have done. that work helped us conserve water, protect the environment, preserve our hydropower resources and operate our infrastructure. the progress we have made through the strong partnership we have. with the tribe, with the water eaters and community throughout. thank you all for recognizing the importance of this issue and for holding this hearing today. be happy to follow up and answer any questions as a follow-up. thank you very much.
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>> thank you assistant secretary. i will now call upon congresswoman to introduce her next witness. >> thank you so much chair hoffman for giving me this opportunity to participate in's important hearing and introduce the next. i am really excited that two constituents for my beautifully diverse district in new mexico are testifying today, thank you very much for your testimony. i have known darrell going back decades. when i served as general counsel for the apache nation at present is a watered minister for the nation and among many roles he's also the cofacilitator for the water in tribes initiative in the colorado river basin. he's also chairman of water is life partnership. he is truly a leader thank you so much for being here today.
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we look forward to your testimony. >> thank you your recognize for five minutes. >> thank you chairman hoffman ranking members and other mems a subcommittee. thank you for the opportunity to testify about the drought situation in the western united states. i could not go further without acknowledging of course my representative with decades long friend, and of course my friend and also a fellow mexican friend assistant secretary. thank you so much for the opportunity today. it's always nice to hear you. thank you for that acknowledgment i really appreciate it. thank you chairman for the opening statements as well. i'm here presenting this to and the lovely durango, colorado.
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you may or may not know they have an enrollment of over 30% of native american students. a pretty special place to be at to be able to provide this to you. i'm going to paraphrase my testimony i know it takes seven minutes to read the whole thing. it is been mentioned before i am enrolled with the apache nation and also of pueblo to separate mite reservations north-central new mexico extends from new mexico colorado border at 70 miles south our tribe a significant water rights in the colorado river basin as i mentioned i have the honor of being my water administrator and thanks mite president in my legislative council for continuing to trust and empower me too be able to speak on behalf of the nation. this is something of absolute importance to my tribe which is our water right. in the spiritual value of our water right.
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and again this is the backdrop of understanding this conversation is absolutely vital and important considering where we are at the moment in time. the situation with climate but the geopolitical conversations going on. this is not only about the importance of the tribe but as we mentioned before is the entire basin and this country as a whole. what to talk a little bit about the past, present, future role in the colorado river basin as we understand for the key message is that the tribes along the federal and state government need to be at the decision-making table. tribes testing the water rights at least 25% of the time and have historically been excluded from decision-making or consulted only after decisions have been made. it's my sincere hope attention
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and action of this can occur present a new chapter in the management of the colorado river paid a chapter which this respect and responsibility i think it's really important to understand continues to do so today despite mother's natures challenges we have experienced thousands of years of sustainable and adaptive living. we understand the importance of honoring the very things that keep us alive that fetus and quench our thirst. going to provide a little bit of context we are at a pivotal moment in time with the anniversary of the river compact the foundational law of the river.
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it's important to understand the context of where my tribe was at that time. from 1887 it was established we have survived on government rations on our traditional homeland. historically nomadic the government tried to make us farmers and ranchers to support that activity but we do not establish a governance structure on my reservation until the indian reorganization act of 1934. could not vote until 1948 and did not have it until the 1960s was important to note my nation settled its water it's nearly 100 years after the colorado river compact in 1992 during the earlier of the tribal settlement. it's been mentioned before there's a lot of conversation about how do we be inclusive of tribes how to make a part
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of the process? the current do a lot for happen testimony i definitely have a way of creating something we don't have to re-create the wheel in terms of a model was created in the columbia river basin looks a lot similar to the components of what could be built in the future. given the amount of tribal water rights the tribes have in the commitment the number of thousands of years we've lived here we current structure does not account for that it's absolutely something not those tribal voices are included in the conversation there's other voices that have not been traditionally heard integrated into that. we build a future that together to be really, really unique and transforming the tribal sovereign relationships. i really appreciate the time
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and please ask you to take a look at my testimony because i go into the specifics not only about that what the division is but my nation has how we can participate. also to know the work we've done in the basin to really build on that collaborative effort. >> i appreciate that thank you so much for sharing that. when finally you will hear from chairwoman emily a florescent of the colorado river indian tribes next to her your recognize for five minutes. >> good afternoon chairman hoffman and ranking member. my name is a million floors on the chairwoman of the colorado river indian tribe pretty appreciate the invitation to testify today on behalf of my people about the drought and its impact on the colorado river. that is the namesake of our sovereign government. also want to think chairman for his work to get our lands
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returned in his support for not only all native people and tribal government. the colorado river indian reservation separated by more than 70 miles of the colorado river running through her land located in both california and arizona. we have the right to divert 719,000 per feet and currently using over 300,000 per feet. the same amount used by the state of nevada. since time and memorial at the river has sustained us. i'm here today to tell you that we are committed to helping to support the river that has provided for us and we have water to offer for this effort. the colorado river is suffering not only from drought but climate change is forcing all of us to change our relationship with its water. we must use its water more efficiently and ensure that
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each drops provides maximum benefit so others are not cut off entirely. this will require new and improved water delivery infrastructure. especially on tribal reservation including ours. we have received funding from the water smart program and usda program to make improvements to the federal irrigation project and our farmland. the need greatly exceeds the capacity of these programs and our ability to provide the required 50% matching funds. by joining with the state, local and private sector we have created partnerships we have started to make up for the lack of a federal investment in the irrigation project. the committee's inclusion of $150 million and that reconciliation proposal to assist tribal government addressing the drought will greatly help us and other
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tribes. we hold the senior water right for the lower basin and are the largest single user of the water from the colorado river in arizona. our water right was quantified by the u.s. supreme court in the arizona versus california decision with the priority date of 1865. and it's not likely to be shortened. despite the challenges were providing help to the rest of the lower basin through the drought contingency plan which was authorized by legislation approved by this committee. the colorado river indian tribes are creating more than 150,000 acre-feet of water for lake emilio as system conservation. this water and our contribution since 2016 have raise the water levels in the lake by more than 3 feet. in addition we have been
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working with the state of arizona, environmental leaders and the water uses to develop a legislative proposal that will authorize us to lease our water to other users in the state. this is the same right that congress is authorized for other tribal governments in arizona and across the west. because our water rights were adjudicated by the supreme court, congress had not acted on them and we lack the authority to lease water because of the prohibition in the 300-year-old indian trade and intercourse act. without the right to lease our water we can do little to directly assist communities in arizona or our neighbors on the river who may face drastic water shortages in the coming years. we have worked with stakeholders in the state of arizona for over five years to develop the proposed legislation that will provide
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us the same sovereign rights over our water that other tribal governments have. our proposed legislation will help make arizona more water resilient and will provide our tribe with the financial resources to fund improvements to the irrigation project so that our water use may become efficient. greater efficiency on a reservation means we can do more to help the river. the colorado river indian tribes are committed to working with the united states to support on river habitat. including providing more water and land for endangered species protection. our legislative proposal will also permit us to lease secure water supplies to third parties including municipalities on the river and those served by the cap that are facing shortages. this may reduce the demand for
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groundwater that is not sustainable in arizona. our first priority water right can be diverted directly to the colorado river with little to no risk of reducing reduction during shortages and will limit the need for new or additional water delivery. leasing our water for authorization use does include a cost for us. if you visit our reservation you'll see more than 10,000 acres of our farmland. a reminder our people have chosen to protect the health of the river. our legislative proposal will only allow leasing of water we have used on the reservation for at least four of the five recent years. this will keep the river and all other water users whole. we are simply requesting the right to decide for ourselves
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how to best use our water because we do not have this right today. it has been an honor to be here today and i thank you for inviting me. i will submit written testimony and am pleased to answer any questions you might have. thank you. >> appreciate that chairwoman flora's parade let me remind members of the committee that rule 3d imposes a five minute limit on questions but will now turn to member questions i will recognize members starting with myself. chair florez i would like to begin with you please. thank you for joining us i appreciate the conversation about how your tribe is committed to providing the colorado river the same support it has provided us, and your words, for so long. then he continued talking about how your tribe will support water use through leases that help strengthen the colorado river. i have no doubt about your commitment to your end appreciate your comments. but i do want to follow up on
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that subject and just ask about the national environmental policy act. one of our important protections and federal law which spotlights any federal action and develops alternatives that can be chosen to avoid or limit harmful impacts and unintended consequences. went to ask as you develop and refine your legislation on water leasing, will you support the preservation and other environmental protections in a manner similar to what i understand has been done with other arizona and elsewhere. >> thank you for your question. guess we will follow all of the requirements that other tribes imposed with. >> thank you for that.
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the problem i have the colorado river we have legal entitlements that add up to 17.5 acre-feet of water every year. and with global warming i am a more realistic more modern assessment were able to deliver something given our math problem, i want to ask how you view prioritizing system conservation and future water leases and prioritizing other actions that can help us reduce overall consumption and address the systemic shortage. >> could you repeat that question again? that was a long question. >> i will not repeat the whole thing but you know we have an imbalance for the entitlements that far exceed what we now understand the hydrology of the basin will provide it.
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and so i just want to ask how you viewed the idea of prioritizing conservation and teacher water leases and also actions that can reduce overall consumption. >> our proposed legislation. thank you for the question for a proposed legislation only permits us to lease water that we have been using already on our reservation. so, we are required to reduce consumptive used to make water available. >> the time i have left i have a couple questions for assistant secretary, to start with large-scale water recycling. this is drought polite of course we've historically done on a smaller scale but with the larger scale projects we can provide supply for millions of people.
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so i want to ask you the planet in the future for the colorado river basin. >> thank you have a system for un- commuting. water recycling is a very important component of our portfolio and new authorization proposed in the infrastructure, passage will be very helpful. it represents a good opportunity to continue the collaboration we've seen at this stage to continue to partner between the federal government and the local entities who are doing so much on the ground. we are going to have to do conservation in every state going forward to help continue address what we see bree thank you for thinking proactively about that this issue. >> thank you for the limited time we have left could use
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speak quickly about salton sea restoration? why is it is important not just in california but other states? >> thank you for recognize the importance. i formerly lived and worked in california i met as recently as yesterday at the representatives from the irrigation district. this helped create stability with respect to the interactions within california. which also helps create stability with the other states and with our government. it's great to see support from representatives in arizona recently for funding and support. i know the upper basin states similarly reached out support of those efforts as well. i think there is a recognition of importance. >> thank you very much.
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i see you back on the screen, are you ready to go? >> and ready to go but. >> excellent your recognize. >> thank you mr. chair. madame assistant secretary the situation anew are familiar with it and the claimant has led this year to a choice between instream interest on one hand and farmers on the other. here in the colorado we can see the same situation approaching. i think it's only been through incredible amounts of hard work by folks in that basin to avoid such a stark choice. but let's assume the worst, hate to do so. but let's assume the worst and when it comes to the future there are dangerous places on the colorado. tell us if you will, what do you think the outcome would be
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if it comes down to the four endangered species in the colorado on one hand and the other hand. tell me, will the same thing happened on the colorado that happened? >> thank you for that question. we have had tremendous challenges we work very hard to balance several competing demands for insufficient water supplies. we have the worst drought ever this past year. it was a horrible situation to be in. the colorado river basin can be a good model for continued coordination in including with respect to the endangered
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species challenges that exist. there are three different recovery programs in the basin that have a wide range of support from the water users, from the environmental community, from the tribe, from our federal team as well. we have a strong record to be building from in the basin. i think it is a good model we can use in other contexts as well. appreciate being part of the conversation. >> thank you madam secretary just want to say thank you for the work the bureau has done and help an extraordinary difficult situation. what i'm really trying to call out though, is the very high probability that we are going to see this happen again and again as we look into this a very, very water short future. so, what i am hoping we will be able to do is address the
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endangered species act in a way i think you kind of alluded to when you said you people are working together to try to figure how to make these things work. the kind of all or nothing zero what we see is not the proper future for the proper futures are we figure out a way of trying to make sure everybody gets something in these situations as opposed to cutting everybody off as did happen in the climate. the reason i brought this up is because people are suffering so greatly from this. even notwithstanding her excellent efforts in trying to help people out. i am just saying i welcome this conversation today because i see the same thing coming on the colorado that we had to deal with in the climate this year. i am just so wishing we don't have to deal with it again forgive me for going on like this.
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as set important to the people of my era. not only my area but the central valley projects. having said that i'm going to shift over to chairwoman for a second period you mention, chairwoman, the colorado indian tribes that work with stakeholders in the state of arizona for over five years to proposed that you've highlight. what are the major barriers major barriers for legislation we have done that, we have been -- over the past five years having meetings. and having a voice. not having a voice was one of the barriers. so now we do have a voice.
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stakeholders and other entities are recognizing them and they see our water and our first priority water rights. and they see that we have been participating in the pilot programs of battling our lands. we have been committed and held our end of the bargain by keeping the water in lake mead with the pilot program and also the dcp. they're welcome to join in and be a part of the solution and not a hindrance in saving the river. we need to take care of this river. there are many other barriers
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there is water allocation were not recognized and viewing all in seeing the shortages. and so we have something to offer, thank you. >> thank you for that. mr. chair masaru did on my clock condo i have my time left for another question questioner. >> remitted 18 into the red. so my answer is no. but we can come back. >> thank you. >> thank you for your comments and thank you for bring up the dire conditions they climate basin which we both represent part of the gentleman is aware in every interest has been suffering. i represent in the species are also getting hammered.
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there are no big winners in this drought condition. i did once make that point. i think and historically i've been involved in this with my days of the egg and water committee, the precious water resource we all depend upon your face in the 21st century climate change. not only for western states but for our entire country and the world. it will ultimately determine whether we are amicably able to live and support an increased population. not only in our country but around the world. it may remind them most of you know part of the challenge here is the rights to the colorado when the final
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allocation was resolved with the law of the river it allocated seven half-million acre-feet of water to pumper basin spaces seven half-million to lower basin states that includes california and nevada. additional water and a half for it was determined back then the average yield with 16.4 million acre-feet per year. but the fact of the matter is that was over allocated we know that today. it's estimated water flow over the past two decades have continued to we have over supermicro subscribed the river that's part of the challenge here. the native americans in the nation states are represented here have an important requirement that they be afforded their water rights as well.
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we have folks who have determined that rights to the river that have yet to be resolved. that is on top of what has already been determined to be allocated. we've got more demand and guess what since the 1960s all of the southwestern states the upper basin states in the lower basin states are still growing and more demands on that water. whether were talking about new mexico, arizona, nevada, california, colorado. so how we deal with this conundrum with climate change is really the issue at hand. so i have long sought and asked my questions that we've got to use all the water tools in the water cool box. we have get waters from a number of sources one of the primary sources is the colorado river basin.
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how does federal investment in the water structure including improving conveyance help california and the entire western state become more resilient to climate change impacts on her water supplies? >> thank you councilman. the muting comes from your side so we got it figured out, thank you for. >> as long as the chairman gives me the ten seconds you were muted. [laughter] >> that's a deal. your clear leadership on these issues the investments absolutely make a difference with respect to the water supply there is a strong connection are seeking to achieve in the color red or river basin that is a clear
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recognition that exists. our infrastructure proposals include investments in modernizing the aging infrastructure we have and develop more water recycling and innovative technology to more efficiently use water and basic investments throughout the basin. >> on big supporter of that if i got about 45 seconds left. i know you have your working group as part of the water sub cabinet meeting. we in california with her multiple sources are looking at ways to better reinforce her own conveyance and provide ability to the use of solar power and all means. to the degree we can use these observation tools to not only improve our species but
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improve water for our farms and farm communities with these extreme drought conditions. we'll talk more about the money but i think in the next hearing i would like to know how you are going to come up to this various cabinet allocate these funds and how we can work with you so all of the states impacted by the colorado river including california can participate in the allocation of these funds. they are desperately needed during the extreme droughts. i want to thank the chairman and the subcommittee chairman on the reconciliation it's important as we work through this. >> i think the gentleman i'm now told representative gohmert gonzales will go next. >> thank you chairman for allowing me.
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i've been hearing the witnesses knowing what's happening all of us have our problems and i think the witnesses have illustrated these can be achieved by working together. so i want to say thank you but i want to yield my time to ranking member. >> thank you so much for that yield. i will only utilize so i can give my overreach back to the chair. continued improvements for system modeling tools are you
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working on design of better tools to anticipate what we are going to do trying to the best information for own decision-making. but to have available for the communities in the water managers around the west. including in the colorado river basin. we work closely with her other federals at noah, the weather service in the forecast center to be able to have alignment in the information we are per providing. we have exit technical staff at reclamation who strive to communicate very effectively
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with the folks working on these issues. >> thank you for that. when that mr. chair i'm going to yield back and hope we are now even when i will stick with them my five minutes next time around. thank you again for the yield. >> i think the gentleman an order is restored. that is much appreciated. i believe mr. soto is next on our side per the gentleman from florida is recognized. >> thank you so much mr. chairman coming to you from what is generally floored at rich and water country although our aquifer may have some stresses on it. we are proud of the 8.3 billion that's in the build back better act help with western water issues. chairman i notice you need a little extra time so i wanted to yield to you, if you would still wanted the remainder of my time. >> i wish she would yield some of your water to california.
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>> went everyone to fund that cross nation pipeline i don't think it's ever going to be feasible. but i appreciate the thought. i do not have further questions in this round. >> then not yield to mr. costa at the remainder of my time. >> mr. costa you are recognized. >> thank you very much representative for the opportunity and mr. chairman as well. i would like to get back to the area we were discussing earlier. we have a water related of 1.7 billion plus. that not only deals with the
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president's request but additional funding fiscal year 21. the total comes to 1.95 the bipartisan infrastructure bill will deal with some of those in california and then for local communities we have so many communities whether their native american communities drinking water does not meet with state or federal standards. how quickly do you think you're going to get that money out if equipment does not mention the reconciliation monies i spoke of earlier i don't know how much that's going to be depending upon what happens with the reconciliation obviously. what is the strategy where
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most needed. >> thank you, thank you very much. the short answer is they are building upon our existing program. we have a very efficient way of getting the additional funding out to the community. were building upon the programs we have. we have additional request for funding and i think that was working coordination by design for how some of this came together on purpose. >> part of that in the bureau obviously has its challenges to be sure. we worked on the federal budget we worked on the
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agreement we allowed legislation signed into law to work with local districts under the thought they might be able to facilitate the implementation of funding and a more expedited fashion in the bureau, have you looked at different ways you can deal with local agencies to facilitate getting these expediting these funds? >> we are always looking for ways to be more efficient. since january we have already figured out how to allocate funding to over 220 different districts throughout the midwest. >> native american groups as well frankly. >> absolutely. we have expanded our tribal technical support program and
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have prioritize the ability to efficiently work with them in coordination with our other partners here at the bureau of indian affairs, we are trying to be as efficient as possible with these programs. >> my time is almost expired i think it be helpful for the subcommittee and the full committee frankly to get an idea of what is realistic to be expected in terms of what has been allocated for the next fiscal year that can actually be moved out and in the next several years. i think that will be helpful for all of us. >> absolutely break. >> a gentlemen's time has expire by the chair now recognizes ms. stansberry from new mexico for five minutes. : : :
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representing new mexico and the hill and we are so grateful for your leadership with other partnerships and of course we are joined by the state engineer that is here. as a fellow i'm excited to have you all here today to talk about the colorado river and our other crucial watersheds in the west. as we all know our rivers and communities have been gripped across the west by a drought that's here that our communities are no strangers to water scarcity as they lived on these lands time and memorial and
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began have shown waters across many generations. it's clear what we are not seeing today is part of a larger trend of a changing climate as temperatures are getting hotter and we are seeing fundamental changes in the system and nowhere is this more visible than mexico where the communities faced historic drought conditions this year at the same time the state has had the largest number of disaster declarations due to flooding and wildfires. for the ability of the communities during water to the fields and the tribes and farmers and ranchers and rivers which depend on these life-giving waters. while the colorado river has been strained by these changes, we also see the partnerships in
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the basin led by the panelists joining us here today that are helping to bring transformational change to the management and of these partnerships are crucial not only to the communities in the colorado river but those that flow through my district that depend on the water transfers from the colorado to meet the needs of the community's and the endangered species. as we look to the future and managing the systems in a time of climate change, we need to continue to leverage these collaborative partnerships to invest in the best technology that we can to invest in modernizing the infrastructure and operational requirements and ensure the communities are helping directed the decisions made about the water system. i believe our job as lawmakers is to make sure that we are putting into place all of the changes that are necessary to end power the community by
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passing transformational water policies, working to protect, trust and treaty responsibilities, water rights in investing and water management agencies investing in resilient infrastructure as we are doing in the build back better act and investing in our water science a data and technology and protecting those. that is our charge as public servants and caretakers of these sacred waters. with that, mr. chairman, i would like to use my remaining time to ask the assistant secretary you've worked across the west in colorado and many of the rivers through many years. can you please share with us what you think congress can do to lift up the best of these collaborative efforts and what we can do to support your work?
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>> thank you. i think the work the congress is doing in the bipartisan infrastructure package is a great example of how that helped us do what you mentioned in your remarks. it allowed us to include our infrastructure and to do more water planning and drought contingency planning efforts in these programs that we have and i think the underlining emphasis is exactly the way that we want to continue doing business in the colorado river basin. >> thank you so much. if you would indulge me i just want to say that i'm grateful that we have mr. hill here today who's such an incredible resource on how we make sure
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they have a seat at the table as we are directing and protecting our water rights for the tribes and communities moving forward we are going to continue this new mexico thread by recognizing the congresswoman for the next five minutes. >> are you getting an echo or am i alright? >> i love the sound of your voice but we are hearing it twice. [inaudible] >> okay is this better? >> sounds pretty clear. go ahead. >> [inaudible] earlier this year i did a tour in my district and
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at each stop leaders told me about the impact of the climate crisis on the communities. something that resonated is the importance of tribes being talked to before things happened. the users immediately which we seize water from the colorado noted that they were never consulted and constructed and they noticed how it negatively impacted the canal and structures but they just want part of the conversation. in your testimony, you talked about and the idea that you named the sovereign governance team and you thought it was important that this be created
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with the agreement. can you give us a short synopsis of what sovereign governance teams look like and what you want us to do and what should it look like in the consultation? did i go mute again? thank you for the question and acknowledgment. to understand right now there is no institutionalized inclusion of the tribal sovereigns. we have to rely on the status of her and or the federal sovereign to represent our tribal water interests. and we've really built the foundation of understanding i think particularly in the colorado river basin in terms of
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the absolute need to be and that sovereign table with the federal government and the state sovereigns to make policy for the future of the colorado river because the current policy isn't inclusive of that and no matter how much you want to engage in the conversation of inclusion the structure doesn't allow for that right now so we are talking about drought and drought response, yes we can be part of the conversation and how to live sustainably so why not use the template of somebody that we've already created and that seems to have worked to a large extent and this will do a number of things in terms of forwarding the colorado river when we start
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thinking about the culture and behaviors and how will we apportion those resources? >> let me get too quick questions in as you know the water supply project in my congressional district and with other surrounding communities. i'm going to put this together with other pipelines because what we have is access pipelines and finishing them have been delayed and we don't have the authorized spending level that is needed. we no longer have enough money for the nation on amendments to the project authorization to
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take advantage, to make sure that we recognize the true cost and also we are going to have to make sure there's additional groundwater wells to supply the communities until the project is complete. i'm hoping that you will be willing to work with us to get that done. >> thank you. representative that is near and dear to my heart and i've been working on it very closely for 15 years. we would be happy to make sure your staff and yourself are aware of all the progress we have been making. we have been working very closely with folks there in the region of the navajo nation and in the local communities to think creatively about how to make sure we have the effective components of the program and we would be happy to work with your
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office and others to make sure that we can make any adjustments that may be needed but i would be happy to participate in the groundbreaking ceremony and then i look forward to being able to participate if that portion of the pipeline has been completed, the managers did a great job with that and it's currently providing water and community and it's a great example of the commitment in the department of interior and the tribal needs in the state of new mexico. >> the time is expired and the chair recognizes the chairman of the full committee, representative granholm of
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arizona. >> i think the chair for her comments and kind remarks. very much appreciated and as the chair woman knows all of us are very much aware of the significant contribution made to accomplish even that portion of the plan. let me follow up on something that the chair was asking. the comments if you throw out other environmental protections, air quality, water quality, the job will be resolved. that's not true.
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it's not even a false choice. i asked this because i think it's important about the utilization and usage going forward. as you put together the proposal we at least prioritize the part that dealt with the deficit at the colorado river, the primary focus of it if i may ask. it's so prerogative to put in there what you want and i had knowledge that. my question is that something that is a consideration? do we have the chairwoman?
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thank you for the question. we want our sovereignty protected to use the water as we decide. right now we can use the waters but our tribal members decided in the referendum that they do not want to make multigenerational commitments oe development. we are finding from the land leases they do not want the water to be committed in the same way. they are committed to helping the neighbors and overall environment so we want to have the authority to decide again for ourselves how to use our water which is the same of others in arizona.
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and i respect that but in this process it is inevitable in the discussions. thank you for what you're doing. i appreciate it. is that resolution to prioritize and [inaudible] talk about that. more of a statement than a question but that's pretty
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obvious. you are muted. >> sorry about that. i'm very sorry. incredibly good question in terms of the tribe and the basin. we don't have the water rights yet in terms of the structural deficit that's going on and the supply demand because where is that water going to come from in that particular climate because that tribe absolutely has a right to water for domestic users even paramount to the settlement so it becomes
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important those that are unquantified because they have to be part of the conversation. >> the keyword and this is critical to that you've heard from the tribal nation today being at the table with 25% of the resource they have to be at the table not only proportionately but with equity. in the past the table has been dominated by users whose interests are on the busiest commercial side and how we
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create a balance after 2026. how do we create that balance? >> first you have to acknowledge -- [laughter] >> thank you mr. chairman. we recognize the importance of the involvement of the tribes and have been working very closely like the water and tribes initiative and partnership they also have a technical discussion going on with regular conversations and it allowed multiple
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opportunities for interaction and then we think going forward we have to be as inclusive as possible with respect to the state representative, the local community, the nonprofit organization, the broad groups that are depending on the colorado river and need to be part of our discussion going forward. a. >> when this was created, it was a different west with a different constituents and voices that needed to be heard. >> thank you mr. chairman. >> thank you. and i know that as he was attempting to chime in he was going to remind us that he had suggested the columbia river basin as a potential model as an answer i'm sure so i appreciate
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the testimony and everyone in the panel of federal and tribal witnesses. we are going to move to a second panel and i'd like to remind we are continually reminded of the side of it as well but i would finish the testimony before we bring back to members for questions and now introduce the second panel so we have the governors representing all of the states and the colorado river basin with us to present testimony. we will first hear from you. we will have representatives from the governors and we will hear first from mr. thomas director of the arizona department of water resources the chair now recognizes you for five minutes.
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>> and you are on mute. we are going to try to fix the audio. let's give this just a moment. we can have mr. peter nelson from california ready on deck it's had a devastating impact in 2022 arizona will lose 18% of its total colorado river
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entitlement the tribes and municipal water users will result and they have come together to provide financial resources and wet water to partially mitigate those impacts. the likelihood is high and in 2023 arizona may lose an additional in mitigation for those reductions is unlikely. in august projections triggered a consultation provision in the lower basin plan. the actions we've taken to date are not enough. arizona, nevada and california have been looking to do more. official actions have two categories, mandatory cuts or additional conservation. arizona's goal this conservation and not greater cuts. tribal and nontribal partnerships will achieve that goal. for the last two decades we have
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learned valuable lessons for managing the colorado river and they include first be vigilant in monitoring the reservoir. we must have data and modeling products by the bureau who possessed the best available science. to achieve outcomes to share the benefits and risks and three, and here to the collaboration among the states. mexico, the united states, some other stakeholders. number four, recognize that we are connected from wyoming to the cortez. incentivize actions that can serve lake mead. resources from the united states must be tools in the toolbox and seven, continue state participation in discussions with mexico.
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as i mentioned they are key stakeholders in the management and critical to the settlements. arizona has 11 efforts tribes with rights yet to be determined in whole or in part. on the certainty attached to the climate change impact on the flow of the river and to the post 26 operating criteria further complicates the completion of the settlements but it's important to the state that those tribal claims be settled. in conclusion, the drought and climate change are presenting challenges and likely to increase over time. planning, management, conservation and collaboration across the political jurisdictions and among stakeholders create the likelihood for success and i thank you again and stand ready to answer questions. we now go to peter nelson, the
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california chair man of the colorado river board. >> good afternoon. my name is peter nelson and i'm the chairman of the colorado river board of california and colorado river river commissioner. i'd like to thank the subcommittee on the wildlife and ranking member and other members of the committee for holding this hearing at a time of historic drought. regardless of why climate has changed, the record is clear. less than average precipitation is resulting in miserable runoff causing lake levels to plummet, putting 40 million americans at risk, environmental havoc and food production and compared all. the lord in california represents the collective interests of colorado river water users in the state. we protect the rights and interest of california's water and hydropower resources.
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we provide peer to peer relationships being collaborated with the other basin states the federal government tries and mexico. california is also experiencing drought. allocations for the state water project contractors and the 0% allocation for 140% just to get a normal runoff. for the first time ever they are unable to produce power on the brighter side, california stepped up in 2003 with the quantification settlement agreement to reduce colorado river usage by 800,000 annually
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and included mitigation measures. we achieved and succeeded conservation to the shortage criteria and 2019 drought contingency plan so metropolitan has 1.3 million in lake mead adding 14 feet of elevation. the irrigation district have concern and again to the zero reclamation. additionally, metropolitan, nevada, arizona and reclamation are currently collaborating and have a potential to create 150,000 acres annually of water in the region reducing the demand on the colorado river. naturally with the largest share
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of the river use would be the irrigation district. imperial has already participated in the largest urban transfer in the country and the need to address the litigation. california is collaborating with our sister states in the basin. native american tribes who need access to clean and reliable water. federal agencies, colleagues in mexico and developing the next set of colorado system operating guidelines we urged the committee to support and provide funding or partnerships
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involving the regional recycling project just in conservation programs for the mitigation including addressing salt reduction in the paradox valley union. among all of the stakeholders in the basin that would have any chance of meeting these challenges and need the united states involved in these efforts. i look forward to addressing any questions that you may have. a. >> thank you mr. nelson. the committee will hear from the general manager of the southern nevada water authority. you are recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, representative napolitano and members of the subcommittee for the invitation today. i serve as the general manager of southern nevada water
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quality. it is not news to this subcommittee that the unprecedented conditions on the colorado river have left both lakes powell and mead at low elevation. annual use today is approximately 14 million-acre and over the last 20 years, the river has given us an average of 12.3 million acre-feet. despite from the scientific community that in the face of climate change we must a brand for the future even less than 12.3 million. there is not yet anything approaching the consensus within the river community as to how a dry of the future we should plan
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for. there's more evidence on the ground about with the colorado river is facing is not drought but a permanent transition to a dry future. and quickly reach agreement on what future scenarios we are lowering the plan for. defining the problem is the first step. we must develop additional supplies, pursuant to the conservation and make investments in technologies and tools that show promise in helping us achieve both. the agricultural and municipal sectors both work together and to that end, research is underway to test in arizona. but the pace of engagement
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between urban and agricultural we must also recognize that the only near-term management strategy in the water conservation and infrastructure and a mere 1.8% of the rivers allocated closed. we must also develop additional supplies. metropolitan, the projects represent a long-term supply option for the lower basin and we urge the passage of the investment act. the regional projects of this kind represent new supply into the lower basin. our progress towards sustainable
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solutions on the partnership and well communicated actions but the community is at a crossroads. we have a simple but difficult decision to make. do we double down on the promises of the last century and fight about realities. >> up next is the director of the colorado water conservation board. you are recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, chairman huffman and members of the subcommittee. thank you for the opportunity to testify today. i am the director of the colorado water conservation board and is director of the state water policy agency, and colorado's negotiator i want to share my insight on the impact of drought and colorado and other basin state that in fact
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the water security from and interstate perspective. the entire colorado basin has been impacted by drought but those have been felt differently in the upper basin and lower basin because of where they sit. both of the reservoirs are from the uses and below the upper basin uses. having these large reservoirs above them have meant they've had some certainty in the water delivery. the lower basin states. in contrast the upper basin we've taken shortages nearly every year for 20 years. without that large reservoir we are reliant on current runoff. it's for this reason the upper basin uses are variable.
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when the snow is abundant, water is available but when the snow is thin, the water isn't there and the users go without. a perfect example of the impact of climate change. having increased absorption of snowmelt and reduced spring runoff this year has been especially difficult. 90% of the state is experiencing drought. an example of the difficult situations that colorado is dealing with a major storage project in southwestern colorado received only one tenth of its water allocation this year and due to the compounding years of shortages, people across the state are considering heartbreaking decisions. there's sociological and
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economic impacts to the community. the water shortages facing southwest colorado the last two years felt heavily on the tribes whose economy and communities depend on revenue generated from cross production. it also impacted the local recreational economy. these releases were made by the eminent needed provision of the drought response operation agreement part of the 2019 drought contingency plan. they were also releases from new mexico and wyoming. the conditions and warmer temperatures also left the forest. the record-breaking fires including three of the largest wildfires and colorado's history. in total over 650,000 were burned and hundreds of homes were destroyed. we are still dealing with the
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aftermath including catastrophic mudslides with little vegetation to hold the soil in place tons of mud and debris down the slopes. closing interstate 70 for 17 straight days. it's important for me is the commissioner to make sure everyone who's worked impacts the river understands the undere challenges that colorado faces particularly as we implement the drought contingency plan and to consider the negotiation of the post 26 operations of the reservoir. as we look forward to those negotiations, one critical element would be meaningful engagement with the tribal nations and basin speaking at the commissioner i talked to the representatives of the southern tribes regularly.
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colorado has water rights settlements with both of the tribes, but we must understand each tribe is different with different needs, values, histories and relationships. negotiators in each state should take the time to sit down with each to understand the unique positions and needs and it would be important to recognize in addition to supporting initiatives providing funding for infrastructure to access clean drinking water for tribes, colorado also supports ongoing efforts to fully fund implementation of the contingency plan, investments in the sustainability efficiency and recovery programs in the upper basin including through the house resolution 5001. my discussion with folks across the state including tribal representative stakeholders, ngos and all types of water
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users helped me develop some principles that will remain at the forefront of my mind in the upcoming negotiations. i believe all of those here today can stand behind two of those goals. we must continue the spirit of the interstate collaboration and cooperation that has defined the work in the basin for 100 years. second we must provide water supply security and certainty for all. in the lower basin, upper basin 40 million people that rely on this critical resource we are committed to being part of the solution that works for all of the colorado river basin. thank you and i will be available for questions. >> thank you. we will now hear from john antonio the state engineer for the state of new mexico. you are recognized.
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>> we are not getting audio from you unfortunately. and i don't think that you are on mute. it is pretty faint. can you try to give a little test here? let's keep working on that. can we come back in? i think if we can we should jump ahead to the general manager of the central utah water conservation district and then come back to mr. antonio when we can get a little better volume.
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you are recognized. thank you for conducting this hearing i serve as the upper colorado utah commissioner and d the general manager for the central utah water conservancy district. the district is the state sponsor of the central [inaudible] project and also the largest of colorado river water utah. the colorado river provides over one third of utah's water supplies and it's fundamental to its prosperity. with such reliance on the river, the unprecedented drought in the mainstem reservoir storage and river flows is alarming. march 17th the governor declared a state of emergency and urge them to use less water. the effectiveness of the
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statewide drought response. over this time last year we've reached the reduction as high as 32% as for his general manager the implementation of the largest conservation program of the water in utah. section 207 of the project completion act statutorily requires up to 80,000 acre-feet annually 50% more than the statutory requirements. nowhere is it more than the colorado river basin. further straining the river system that is reaching a breaking point. the upper basin contingency plan includes the commitment by the division state for the feasibility of a temporary
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voluntary compensated management program. in addition the drought response agreement is also being actively implemented in this agreement governs the release of storage water with operational adjustments considered at lake powell. releases from these upper reservoirs are underway as we speak as has been mentioned. also the upper basin has routinely taken shortages measured by the significant reductions in water that is available for use by the system. like others we face challenges in supplying water to a state with explosive growth. overcoming these challenges is a tall order we must tackle with the inclusion of all colorado river stakeholders. utah is committed to the development and use for the
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measurement of divergent use. one particularly important platform is open et. the continued congressional support of such work especially as it shifts from the research to the application arena as necessary. further use of such tools will allow for a consistent demonstration, excuse me, consistent determination of completion across all colorado river basin states. congressional support for the water infrastructure investment conservation programs, outreach, education and additional research is also critical. i grew up on a small farm in colorado and as a boy my favorite day was the day the snow melted and was turned into the canals. i learned early on that water is finite and shared in a common
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resource. when it comes to the colorado river the most effective solutions must be collaborative. each are bound together by a common goal to utilize this precious resource in a responsible way that allows us to meet the needs and priorities of the communities. thank you again for the opportunities to share this information i would be happy to answer questions. thank you. >> let's go back and see if we can hear him now. i don't know what to say. we just are not able to hear you and so unfortunately while we can keep trying to work on that suffices for the time being if we can troubleshoot the audio,
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i'm happy to include even the questioning but given that problem, we will now hear from mr. turrell of wyoming, commissioner to the upper colorado river commission. >> thank you ranking members of the subcommittee. am i being heard? >> yes. sounds great. thanks for checking. wyoming's commissioner to the upper colorado commissioner in wyoming governor representative on the colorado thank you for providing the opportunity to present testimony today on behalf of the state of wyoming. you've heard about the conditions at lake mead and lake powell the impacts are not
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limited to the system reservoirs and the water shortages due to the extremely dry conditions. in wyoming as in other places we rely on whatever runoff is available to the rivers and streams and the water supply is not sufficient to supply all only the most senior water rights. therefore like the other upper basin states the users have routinely suffered shortages even though wyoming has developed less than two thirds of its full supply. during drought years, wyoming water use is reduced by more than 20% compared to the years when water is more plentiful. the shortages get less attention
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and require more federal declaration. they carry with them economic impacts. collaboration will continue to be the key and responding to drought. since before 2000, the basin states reclamation mexico, basin tribal leaders, water users and others have collaborated to implement the innovative and proactive measures. and as the challenges increase, that collaboration must not only continue but in proof. we intend to continue that coordination as we develop the reservoir operating. however, post 26 guidelines caused by this drought and can only be addressed by other measures. they continue to implement the
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drought contingency plans with the principal goal of which was to assure the compliance. further, releasing storage from upstream federal reservoirs as you've heard about is only a first line of defense to protect critical elevation. existing storage is finite and cannot protect that under many of the scenarios now being projected. such a program is even feasible in addition to demand management that faced difficult challenges to be resolved before it can be developed and implemented. more is needed for the resilience and to ensure the federal commitments under the dc to be met securing access to clean water communities and the
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species recovery programs. there is a need to focus on the investments and opportunities including water storage infrastructure on the scale facilitating watershed and incentivizing and improving water supply forecasts. for the upper basin states into new mexico not responding to measures equally stretched across the entire basin. build the required development and implementation across federal agencies in cooperation with partnerships in the basin states and tribes, ngos and other stakeholders. they are willing to engage in that collaborative effort and to
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sustain water resiliency and provide more information on the types of investments and opportunities most likely to help ensure the colorado river basin continues to support a thriving economy and a healthy environment. thank you for the opportunity to testify here today. i'm happy to answer any questions that you or the committee may have. >> thank you very much. we are going to move on to questions of the members right now if we can figure out the problem we will take him out of order and come back to him but in the meantime i'm going to recognize myself for the first set of questions and begin with mr. nelson from colorado. we spoke in the previous panel about the restoration and of course this is a partnership that is being led by the state of california but includes tribes, local partners,
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environmental stakeholders, federal agencies. can you expand why the work is so important not just for those living near but for the larger community. >> thank you for the question. it is a delta part of the colorado river and it's important. first of the work that is being done now is associated with implementation of the settlement agreement that resulted in nearly 500,000 conserved water supply that are then transferred to the coastal plainness of
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that's an important aspect. with other species. third, as it's a decreased since 2003 mitigated as well as the irrigation efficiencies within the district the exposed playa continues to expand and is resulting in a significant threat. it contains some of the highest asthma rates and health issues. this air quality impact is a social and environmental issue
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that is critical to the region across the valley into the southwestern arizona and eastern. finally, i would say that it's worth acknowledging that the commitment for the collaboration between the obama administration and the state of california. that committed the state and federal government for a long time a series of checks that would be accomplished on the habitat restoration and $10 million for the state managed monitoring. california suggests that it should be considered basically the foundation for the collaboration in the area.
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we have the mitigation plan and also making good progress on that. thank you, mr. nelson. i would like to talk about this large-scale water recycling potential division for bringing the new drought water to this shortage challenge in the water basin. can you speak about why adding something like that to the water supply portfolio would be so critically important and also the state of play for the large-scale projects. are we doing enough or should we be doing more? you've got the rest of my time. >> thank you very much, chairman. first, just the water impact, the metropolitan impact could have as much is 160,000 acres feet of water to the system and
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with the regional. as we move into the future we really have to look at what is precious and available. all that water can be utilized and in terms of federal government, that is $450 million to gain in the bipartisan infrastructure will not just to the water reclamation but also for federal compliance with the obligations.
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>> next up for questions, i am told that we may have finally achieved an audio connection with mr. antonio so we want to give all seven basin states equal time. i promised i would bring them in out of order. let's see if we can hear you and if he is willing to count down for a few minutes we will come back to him right after you. >> we can hear you. >> chairman huffman, ranking member, representative from new mexico, distinguished members of the subcommittee, i'm the state engineer for new mexico.
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with priorities related to the river basin, the shortages in the 19 the river compact, the river basin states agreed to share the colorado river with each with the exclusive beneficial use of 7.5 million acre-feet of water per year. mimic's ghost apportionment is 11.5% of that amount and since 2000, the colorado river basin entered a period of continued drought and the upper division states have been taking shortages based on limited sites for the past two decades. in new mexico the water shortages occur annually in the san juan river basin including the tributaries. to deliver to the municipalities
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along the rio grande water supply during the last decade and as an example in 2021 we experienced the shortage of 40%. one component of the drought contingency plan is the drought response operation agreement in june of 2021 the reclamation protected the critical elevation of less then six months and under the emergency provision of the reclamation coordination division state started releasing 181,000 acre-feet of this year from three main reservoirs to help boost the elevation of lake powell. ..
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>> to the rural community in and around the navajo nation and those communities have been hit particularly hard by the drought and the covid-19 pandemic analyzing using those climate trends in the punctuated. should be taken into consideration this will need to be addressed for what we experience today from the
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infrastructure and public health and safety standpoint it is important to address the long-term challenges while retaining accessibility to authorize the amount particularly during the good years and is no easy task and in 2007 expiring in 202,640,000,000 people in seven states the lower colorado zero reclamation with zero modeling expected expertise responding to short-term priorities modeling refinements to the ppp implementation long-term priority with a 2026 operations with lake powell and mike on —- lake mead we ask in the next one through five years. and then the build back better act of the reclamation
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settlement fund wildlife settlements that is an investment in our future as well as the upper colorado recovery act the seven states that agree to the compact on the basis for the resource and protected rights for almost one century the states have worked cooperatively with each other and the federal government and other partners and stakeholders to manage the systems with that adaptive management action within the confines of the river that's decision-making process with illegal policy aspects concurrently that they will strive to employ a fact-based approach that considers the holistic mission thank you. >> thank you for your technical perseverance thank you for your forbearance.
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>> thank you mr. chair mr. tyrell from wyoming you mention it is something that needs to happen here in oregon we agree with you completely that watersheds are an essential part of the water system and of course restoration is essential activity but sadly we can't seem to get into the port and there is a prohibition of cutting down trees or trying to do things that would help dramatically to improve the watershed and water supply it is the craziest thing and we all know that we can't seem to get there so with the same thing happening in wyoming somebody doing about it? >> . >> thank you for the question.
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i know i can speak to the sports in access to them we have also been not quite like oregon this year but in the fires in recent years those west of laramie were horrible and in my view if we are interested in that points to removing fuels are just healthy growth forest are valuable in terms of snow and maintaining those areas for the environment and people who rely on water so it would seem and then could do nothing but help our conditions on the river.
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>> there is a lot of reference to collaboration and conservation and words like that. pretty general what i would be interested in knowing if the study had been done in your state first of all what type of conservation i can ask any of those seven states so don't want to pick on you particularly but i thank you did mention words like that so how much water is available for conservation across the board in your state quick. >> thank you for that. as part of the colorado water plan conservation is one of the pillars of how we move forward to a long-range future of water for colorado.
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and conservation is just one of the solutions there is quantification along with gold but that isn't just the colorado river basin but across the entire state so there is over 400,000 cancellation major measures. and what would potentially be possible. >> i would love to see those numbers. so in utah of focus on agriculture in situations like this.
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and agriculture is cut off and there's a lot more people in cities and farms. so what should the farmers be doing to have this focus they find themselves within? >> you are exactly right. and i agree that agriculture has had bad name for using water or wasting water for what he diverse and then that returns to the river than the next appropriators water supply. it's not as simple as people think and it produces water
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for culinary purposes. has to be a market-based situation where there is an advantage using water that has historically been used for agriculture moving to municipal and it happens quite comfortably yet those conditions are set. >> i yield back. >> we are glad to be joined from the nevada delegation. >> thank you for giving an opportunity for this panel. i represent the heart of the las vegas valley with 40 million tourists come every year so the colorado river
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that goes to suppliers is a very important issue. i would like to address our representative. there are three factors happening all at the same time. one is one of the fastest growing areas in the country it increased by 18 percent over the last decade. this has been going on for much longer than that we went one.3 million with two.3 million between 2002 and today. there was a time you had to build one elementary school per month to keep up with the growth. we are the fastest community in the country. that is the second factor and we have the smallest amount of water in the allocation to start with and yet we're one of the best stewards in the amount that we do get. i was glad that you mentioned in your comments the large-scale watering
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investment act which i am a cosponsor of and the many that would go to water projects in the bills that are considered for infrastructure. all this time the three factors are going on we reduce our consumption of water. it is amazing had we been able to do that. did you talk about how we can sustain growth or continue growth while also using our consumption of water from the river? >> absolutely representative. since 2002 we have reduced our depletion volume by 23 percent while at the same time oh adding over 800,000 new and we do that largely but we have arrived we need to continue
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that conservation and the legislature adopted this year. that prohibits the use of colorado river water. that will save about 10 percent you worried nobody's kids or grandkids. so as you say climate changes in doing us any favors it will go 9 gallons just because of the increase. >> you have where you could convert your lock —- your yard into a desert landscape can you share how that works?
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>> absolutely. we refer that to our water landscape program we pay three dollars per square foot we incentivize people to take out grass and the result is staggering. and as local friends. and then to laying in t in teenage sod around the equator. >> people think of golf courses and resorts and mountains and things but in the reality they use a small percentage of the water sitting here in the valley. >> that's correct. clark county which is home to 76 percent of the states population uses less than 5 percent of the water that is available for nevada.
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and that wet brings in 45 million visitors per year they use less than one tenth of 1 percent. >> are you working on any work conservation project? >> i'm sitting on the board of trustees for those conservation initiatives for lake mead and any others. >> are you involved with the st. george water project? >> i am not. >> i will save that for next time. i yield back. >> we will go to your nevada neighbor you are recognized for five minutes. >> thank you chair and ranking member for hosting this important meeting into all of the witnesses for their
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excellent testimony. is the congresswoman said the entire southwest is facing and print unprecedented drought supplying water for over 25 million people across nevada arizona california at the lowest level since construction in the thirties and to help address this crisis so much more must be done with that consumptive use and i want to thank mr. tyrell for recognizing the importance of this program and the testimony which the congresswoman developed and here in the house i have introduced the open access with fellow colleagues of this committee under the department
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of interior that uses publicly available data from satellite and weather stations to provide measurements and estimates to make decisions about water use and also been working to secure federal funding for the large tail water project and in fact my colleagues on this committee with a large scale investment act was included in the bipartisan infrastructure bill. the southern nevada water authority with the metropolitan water district multibillion-dollar recycling project can you speak to how this project will provide tangible benefit to nevada california along the count on —- colorado river basin?
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>> absolutely with the simplest explanation to take wastewater discharge through the pacific ocean and to be injected into aquifers thereby expanding the use of that water in california so that would invest $750 million toward the capital needs of that project and then we leave a large amount in lake mead for use of the project central arizona conservancy district also signs on to participate in that project in a very real
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way of the bipartisan infrastructure bill with large amounts of funding from local agencies. >> and how do you rank and the fight against the worsening drought of all of the schools in your toolbox? >> of all the testimony that has added new water and how many more needs there are for that is not currently available but that is a project for the future. >> im looking out at my backyard that has artificial turf so we have been fighting to combat drought as a member
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appropriations so in addition to have recycled water partnerships have any other specific types of investment of water related climate resilience in the colorado river basin that need federal assistance quick. >> and with that federal obligation to have that 100 acre-feet of lake mead and then the reclamation to meet that obligation and so to provide that reclamation with additional funding but also expand the programs in terms of agreements.
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>> thank you very much i yield. >> thank you to our colleagues from nevada for closing us out on a hopeful note talk about projects and strategies that can make a difference to adjust these challenges think into the witnesses. >> do i get a chance? >> of course. we want to include you i did not have that in my notes you are recognized. >> i have been listening tentatively to all of the debate and i appreciate it very much. thank you. let me make two statements for what my father would say is the $64000 question that i suspect it is a lot more than $64000 these days. the first statement is i subscribe to the comment
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earlier the water allocation for the production of food is a national security issue less than 5 percent of the nation's population is engaged in agriculture production the majority of americans maybe as a result of the pandemic they begin to understand that food does not come from your restaurant or your favorite store but from farmworkers and the second point and want to make is part of the witnesses statements it's not new and something that we subscribe to is used to all the water tools in the toolbox and with the quantification that i strongly subscribe to that notion because we've done a lot of conservation but for all the
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witnesses it would be nice if we could quantify build upon in terms of conservation that is a part of one of the water tools in the toolbox that back to the point i made my opening statement that quantification in the law of the river with the 17 million feet of water throughout the colorado river and throughout the last two decades two.for millions and that does not account for other native american tribes that have claims that have yet to be resolved so there's just a tremendous amount of demand and with climate change we know the yield will only decline. so if you have a written statement for your answer i
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would appreciate that. 's over the next 30 years with climate change how do we take into account with the upper and lower basis and then reallocate that? that is a 64000-dollar question with the value and importance of security to everybody. it was so difficult to agree on 17 million which we know now is not there how do we agree among the native tribes on a reduced amount that will use all of those. so that's a 64000-dollar
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question. anybody else want to comment on the hunger game scenario? [laughter] i had a series of agreements and now is it enough? >> i was involved in a quantification agreement. >> very much of a success. it is an incremental change and currently we are meeting quite frequently with the upper basin and lower basin to quantify additional measures
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of conservation with the interim but also working on the 2026 guideline. it is a series of collaborative work together that tries to quantify and develop the areas you make those contribution investment. >> can we use all of those water tools in the toolbox and then and then the law of the river contract on a percentage basis reduce it by that factor to whatever we determine the yield to be quick. >> that challenge is the long-term water rights. that is a challenge it is a collaborative process to get through that and i will say that one thing i have no disrespect and i take your
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comments to heart the food that we eat it comes with water and food equals water and we are all a part of the process in the food production cycle. >> thank you mr. chairman. >> it's a great question you ended with and if any witness once to provide supplemental answers we would be happy to see it. any other colleagues that want to jump in with questions? i don't want to overlook anyone. so at this point we will bring
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the first day of the colorado river basin hearing to a close. thank you to the witnesses on the second panel and all the members for the great questions members of the committee may have additional questions for the witnesses and we will ask you to respond to those in writing under committee rule 30 they must submit those within three business days. after the hearing the record will be held open for ten business days to have business and no objections we are adjourned.
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